November 5, 2014
Do you suffer from arthritis pain? If so, you’re not alone. Approximately 40 million people contend with stiff and painful joints, making arthritis the most common cause of disability in the United States. Though a disease currently without a cure, arthritis can yet be a manageable condition. Given the relationship between action and arthritis, many people focus on how their movements can either help or hurt their health. However, to effectively manage arthritis pain, it’s important to evaluate diet as well.
When it comes to successful arthritis prevention, inflammation control is the name of the game. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage and bone that make up a joint suffer damage from the release of chemicals via the body’s immune system. Years of wear and tear, as well as past joint injuries, can also contribute to joint inflammation and deterioration. The good news is that many types of foods contain antioxidants that counteract the inflammation process. The Arthritis Foundation recommends traditional Mediterranean diet staples — olive oil, nuts, fish and fresh produce — because they contain ample antioxidants.
So if food can ease arthritis pain, does that mean what you eat can aggravate it as well? In a word, yes. Many food ingredients can spike joint inflammation, and refined sugar is a main offender. To better manage arthritis flare-ups, reduce or cut out more obvious culprits such as cakes, cookies, donuts and most other items you would find in your neighborhood pastry shop. Desserts aren’t the only foods that contain processed sugar, though. Many savory items, including breads and pasta sauces, also have high amounts of this ingredient. Beverages often contain sugar as well. Soda, energy drinks, sweetened tea, flavored coffee and even fruit juice can come loaded with sugar that may trigger arthritis stiffness and pain.
Being mindful of what you eat can protect your joints in many ways. Your food selections can both alleviate arthritic inflammation and lessen joint trauma, and your calorie intake can directly impact the health of your joints. Arthritis experts caution that excessive weight can place undue pressure on the lower back, hips, knees, ankles and toes. When these joints strain under the force of too much weight, it can lead to cartilage deterioration and bone-on-bone abrasion. While a regular exercise regimen can help to burn off extra calories, a nutritious and low-calorie diet can lower the risk of excessive weight as well.
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